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Five Ways to Maximize Your Theatre’s Social Media Presence

As a content creator and a social media manager for theatre companies, I have experienced firsthand how social media can be a radical site for theatre companies to engage with audiences. While ticket prices continue to skyrocket and theatre companies struggle to fill seats, social media—especially video content—can reach thousands of viewers. Algorithms help content reach a company’s target demographic, which can create a sense of belonging. Social media is a vital asset that theatre companies and productions can harness to attract audience members and build community around the theatre’s culture. Social media platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, Twitter (do I have to call it X?), and Facebook give theatres “free” tools to promote their work and find offline success. The possibilities are endless.

Social media is as integral to a marketing strategy as mail-outs, print ads, posters, radio and television spots, and any tried-and-true methods that comprise the marketing wheelhouse. Moreover, social media arguably holds more power than traditional print reviews. Gone are the days of the local newspaper dictating a show’s ticket sales and, in some cases, longevity. In today’s theatre market, social media platforms are home to a robust word-of-mouth network. 

In what follows, I draw from my professional work in social media to map out five components that should inform any social media strategy. Regardless of a theatre company’s size and scope (some theatres have a full-time social media manager and others take a more do-it-yourself approach), having a nuanced social media strategy is critical to success on any social media platform. Here I share concrete steps that theatre companies—and social media managers specifically—can implement to position social media as a critical extension of the work being done onstage. While social media can seem daunting to the inexperienced theatre artist, it doesn’t have to be. With some trial and error, and the general willingness to just do it, theatre companies can begin to leverage the unique potentials of social media.

Trevor Boffone films an actress singing into a microphone onstage.

Trevor Boffone and Kelley Peters during a content shoot for Always... Patsy Cline by Ted Swindley at Stages in Houston. Directed by Kenn McLaughlin. Scenic design by Joel Burkholder. Costume design by Katherine Snyder. Lighting design by Janessa A. Harris. Photo by Britney Crosson.

Videos or Pictures?

Video content reigns supreme. Of course, video’s popularity doesn’t mean that theatres shouldn’t post pictures at all. After all, most theatre companies work with excellent photographers who are already hired to capture beautiful images for mail-outs, programs, email newsletters, posters, webpages, and the like. A social media strategy should absolutely use this content. Even so, platforms like TikTok and YouTube are video platforms, and even Instagram privileges Reels in its algorithm. Even a flop video on Instagram Reels will yield more engagement (more views, comments, shares, bookmarks, etc.) than a static picture post.

Although theatre companies can be reluctant to share video content of their current productions, this footage can go a long way in attracting potential audience members. Theatres shouldn’t be afraid to show us an actor singing part of a well-known showtune or reciting an iconic monologue. Let us see a backstage quick-change or an impressive scenic transition. Such videos are viral fodder.

Social media managers and marketing teams in general must find the right balance between video posts and static posts. By strategically building a social media strategy that balances video content with carousel picture posts, as well as press/media content, theatres can market productions in a multi-modal way that will increase the likelihood of converting social media audiences into in-person audiences.

 It is critical to know through-and-through what the company mission and vision is and how the social media strategy can serve these goals.

Content Pillars

The first step in crafting a social media strategy is developing well-maintained content pillars. Content pillars are specific categories of content that creators will funnel their work into. Not only does this teach your audience what to expect from your company, it also makes a social media manager’s job more manageable. Any successful social media account will have three to five content pillars that they stick to. Some may be more commonly used than others, but throughout a two to three week stretch, for example, all pillars will be hit. For a theatre company or production, content pillars might be production images/footage, behind-the-scenes content, process posts, artist profiles, company culture, the theatre’s “vibe,” dramaturgy, connecting productions to trends and popular culture, or educational material. Although most theatres will ultimately have similar content pillars, it is critical to know through-and-through what the company mission and vision is and how the social media strategy can serve these goals. If a company’s goal is to educate, then content pillars might be geared towards educational content. If a company’s goal is to strengthen its presence in the local community, content pillars might highlight how the company is part of the community fabric. If a company simply wants to sell tickets, content pillars might focus on what’s happening onstage. 


Regardless of the social media platform, being consistent is crucial to building an audience and finding long-term success. While so-called social media coaches will claim you must post multiple times per day on every platform to game the algorithm and attract more eyeballs, this requirement is a myth. Social media is about quality, not quantity. Posting three to five times per day on TikTok is akin to throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. Not to mention that maintaining that posting schedule consistently over the course of several months is unrealistic for overworked theatremakers who are surely wearing multiple hats. 

Instead, social media managers should develop a posting schedule that aligns with the resources at hand. For most sizeable regional theatres, posting to Facebook, Instagram, and perhaps even TikTok once per day Monday through Friday is an achievable goal. But a social media strategy can be more infrequent. For a theatre with fewer resources, a three-day-per-week posting schedule might make more sense. The posting schedule also may depend on the specific platform and audience reach of the theatres in question. Creating a posting schedule that aligns with the organization’s goals and resources is crucial to building a presence on any social media platform.

When strategizing the type of content to post on each platform it is also essential to keep in mind what each platform’s role is for the theatre economically.

Authentic Content

Content on social media platforms needs to be authentic to that platform. That is, content should be authentically created for each specific social media platform, keeping in mind factors like the type, tone, and size of content. Of course, there will be overlaps, but, in general, a native TikTok post will need to be modified for Facebook (if it can be modified at all). Perhaps due to time constraints or a lack of know-how, theatres tend to use a one size fits all model for social media content. The issue is that each social media platform has a different user base, different aesthetics, different cultural norms, you name it. So when a theatre has a hit TikTok video that leans into TikTok aesthetics (chaotic, idiosyncratic, messy Gen Z humor, for instance), it likely won’t land on Facebook where the audience base inevitably skews older and where TikTokian humor is less common. Or take, for instance, the use of horizontal video on TikTok or Instagram Reels. These platforms privilege vertical video. Although a repurposed horizontal video can (and often does) do well on these social media sites, horizontal video is not the bread and butter of TikTok or Instagram Reels. Theatres should be working to create authentic video that quite literally fits the dimensions of the platforms in questions.

When strategizing the type of content to post on each platform it is also essential to keep in mind what each platform’s role is for the theatre economically. TikTok is not a selling platform; it is a visibility platform. Once TikTok accounts reach high visibility (whether through follower counts or viral videos), it is imperative to move your followers to other platforms, especially non-algorithmic ones like a newsletter. On other platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, theatres can organically sell tickets in various ways. For instance, Instagram Stories are where a theatre’s most-devoted social media followers are. These folks are the ride-or-die fans. They are the most likely to click a link in a Story post. They are the most likely to purchase tickets to a show or spread word-of-mouth. These are the people that actively want to support the theatre. Because of these distinctions, a social media strategy should keep platform differences in mind when curating content, writing copy, and mapping out posting schedules.

Trevor Boffone films a a woman sitting at a desk.

Trevor Boffone and Ciara Anderson during a recent content shoot at Stages in Houston, Texas. Photo by Britney Crosson.

Framing, Lighting, Audio

A lot more goes into a well-made social media video post than the casual observer may realize. It isn’t simply recording video content and posting it online. Posting raw video may happen, but, as with all aspects of social media management, there is artistry involved. I advocate for three concepts: Framing, Lighting, and Audio.

Video content needs to be well-framed. The subject shouldn’t be too close nor too far. The video shouldn’t be shaky. If the video pans across the subject, the pan shouldn’t be too fast as to become blurry (or, worst-case scenario, make your viewer dizzy). The video framing should also consider app-specific on-screen components such as the TikTok search bar at the top of the screen, the caption at the bottom of the screen, or the engagement emojis on the right side of the screen. Every app has an assortment of onscreen components that must be considered when framing and editing a video.

Lighting can make or break a video. The TikTok algorithm quite literally factors in the lighting in the video (how bright it is or how dark it is) when decoding how to spread the video on the platform. So lighting needs to be on point to help the video get a solid algorithmic launch. Videos should never be backlit. The lighting source should come from behind the camera, not behind the subject. Natural lighting is almost always the best-case scenario (and an overcast day is sometimes far better than a sunny day as it softens up the subject a bit). Ring lights can be helpful, but can also create an unnatural, overlit texture to the subject. 

Trevor Boffone films an interview with his phone on a tripod.

Trevor Boffone and Tevyn Washington during a recent content shoot at Stages in Houston, Texas. Photo by Britney Crosson.

If the account relies on using trending audio, then the sound quality is a moot discussion. But if anyone is speaking on camera (in any capacity) then the audio quality must be a factor when creating content. Always do a mic test before filming content. Many times, the smartphone mic is more than adequate, but other times there is too much background noise (especially in a working theatre or a busy lobby) to record content that is audibly legible. Having a good wireless microphone that plugs into a smartphone is fundamental (and doesn’t need to break the bank; there are more than adequate ones for $25 online). And it goes without saying that high quality audio should be paired with on-screen captions to increase accessibility and increase viewership. As the default setting on Instagram and Facebook Reels is mute, having captions is critical. Even on TikTok, many people view content on mute or at a very low volume. The more legible and inviting your video, the longer your audience will stay on the video. And with longer watch times comes higher engagement rates, which encourage the algorithm to further share your content with social media users who are likely to be interested in the theatre’s content and, with any hope, attend an upcoming performance at the theatre.

What Next?

Social media isn’t a new phenomenon for theatre companies even if the way we use social media continue to evolve. Theatre has historically been at the forefront of the digital shift. Theatre fans flocked to Broadway message boards in the 1990s. Marketing teams quickly adopted using YouTube after the platform launched. Similarly, Twitter became a space to extend the dramaturgy of productions and theatre companies into a fan-friendly digital space. As theatre audiences continues to engage with social media platforms, the ways that theatre companies and productions adapt to this ever-changing landscape remains crucial to staying relevant. Today, platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook are where theatre lovers hang out twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. These social media users engage in a real-time, multi-platform conversation that is all about theatre. What theatre company wouldn’t want to tap into that community?

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